VII.

"When I was young, I used to think—can they bring this guy back to life? So I can beat the shit out of him?"

"Ha, he would beat the shit out of you."

"Why do you think I'm working out?"

We laughed.

"It would be worth it, just to land a good punch or two. But, no. I'm not a violent person, anymore. Really."

"So what do you think now?"

"I would like to meet his ghost."

"Holy shit, why?"

"I don't know. To talk to him, I guess."

"Maybe if they get this time-travel thing down."

"I think that's less likely, somehow. Even though I don't believe in anything after death."

"You do. You just don't know it yet."

"'I won't waste my time here any longer. The fires have already opened for us—and I'm sure they have parades down there too.'"

"Okay, so maybe when you go to hell can meet up with him."

"Valhalla."

"Huh?"

"That's what they used to say: 'Wir sehen uns in Walhalla!'."

"Will we, though?"

We worked in silence a while. It was pretty late, about nine or so. The release of our pipettes was the only noise through the lab.

"I thought that's what writers fear," he began, "one of them—"

"Yeah?"

"—well, one of 'em coming to life. And taking revenge."

"He's not a character, though. He's a person."

"He's a character the way you write him."

"What does that mean?"

"Do you think writing about him like that's going to give you the right?"

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"To meet him, is that why you write like that?"

"Like I piss him off enough and he'll come after me?" I thought a moment. "Yeah, probably."

"It's freaking offensive."

I laughed. "How so?"

"I mean it's not funny."

"If it isn't, then what is?"

"It lacks moral depth."

"Well tell me, how do you think I should write?"

"How do you think you should write?"

"Well, we certainly shouldn't respect them."

"It's the sort of thing—" he said indignantly, "—like you should have a moment of silence before even talking about it."

"'Heartless man. I'll see you nailed to your Iron Cross and mocked unto the grave'."

"It's really not funny, though."

"You know what I used to call them when I was little? The men who take themselves too seriously."

"You could have a bit more reverence."

"'Only serious men can be evil.'"

"What would you ask him?" he asked suddenly.

"Me? He would probably just ignore me. It would be like summoning one of those higher-level demons, that you have no real control over."

"But what?" he persisted.

"Why did you shoot your reflection?"

"Seriously."

"Did it hurt?"

"Really."

"I'd just want to talk to him. To see what kind of person he was."

"Uh-huh."

"You know what I hate about the man in the high castle? He chickened out. That asshole, right before the best part—that's why it ends so sudden."

"Because he didn't want to go insane."

"What's insanity got to do with it, though?"

"Said it disturbed him too much. The research."

"Sometimes I think I would be the worst kind of Nazi. Because that morality thing is a non-issue for me."

He shook his head.

"I'm related to Nazis, you know? But only funny ones. There was Franz—he wanted to join the SS, but they wouldn't have him. Then there was Hans. Kept talking on about how they were going to come out with a secret weapon, win the War."

"Dude, shut up."

"But someone was Jewish at some point as well. And Russian and Chinese. Mostly we're related to a bunch of Hungarian gypsies from Mongolia. And we're all related to the same monkey-beast-thing from Africa."

"You shouldn't talk like that."

"Why not?"

"It's not good."

"The bible. Isn't that a non-issue, though?"

He sighed.

"I could imagine." I leaned my head in my hand. "Getting inside Heydrich's head."